Chinook Breed Magazine - Showsight

The Chinook T he Chinook is truly a different breed. An American trea- sure, the breed has come far since its beginnings on a small New Hampshire farm over 100 years ago. The breeding of a Greenland Husky bitch, reported to descend from Admiral BY PATTI RICHARDS

Peary’s lead dog, “Polaris,” to a St. Bernard/Mastiff-type farm dog pro- duced a litter of three tawny pups. One pup stood out from the rest, dis- playing great intelligence, courage, work ethic, and a gentle disposition. “Chinook” was a tawny dog weighing around 90 pounds, with a blocky head and flopped ears. His appearance was distinct. Though character- istically different from the other sled dogs on the farm, he was able to successfully reproduce himself in his offspring. His owner, Arthur T. Walden, was so taken with Chinook and “Chinook’s dogs” that he felt he had created the perfect combination of loving companion and working dog. He named his kennel “Chinook Kennels.” Walden was an explorer, author, innkeeper, and most importantly, a sled dog driver. He learned to drive dog teams during the Alaskan gold rush. When he returned to his home in New Hampshire, he brought his love of adventure with him. Walden and his dog sled team, with Chinook in lead, are credited with bringing the sport of sled dog racing to New England and founding the New England Sled Dog Club in 1924; the oldest club of its kind still in operation. But Walden and Chinook would play an even bigger role in history than either could have ever imagined. Attracting the attention of Admiral Richard Byrd, Walden was asked to head the Dog Department for Byrd’s first Antarctic Expedition in 1927. Walden and his sixteen Chinook dogs were described by Admi- ral Byrd as “backbone of the expedition transport” in his book, Little America . In fact, in 1931, Walden received the Congressional Medal for his part in Byrd’s Antarctic Expeditions. President Hoover went on to declare a Chinook, “Paugus,” and his owner as America’s most typical “boy and his dog.” Chinook was so much more than a commanding lead-dog. Chi- nook’s gentle temperament and playful personality allowed Byrd to take him to lectures and fund-raising events. Chinook became the signature dog of Byrd’s expeditions. He became the symbol of a sled dog to both adults and children everywhere. He was even commemorated as a Steiff stuffed animal. He was so famous that when Chinook was lost in Ant- arctica during the expedition, it made headline news around the world! At Walden’s request, Route 113A from Tamworth to Wonalancet, New Hampshire, was named “Chinook Trail” to honor his beloved dog. It bears his name to this day. When Walden returned from Antarctica, the Depression had already taken a toll on his farm. Heartbroken after the loss of Chinook, Walden sold his Chinook Kennels to Eva “Short” Seeley and the remaining Chi- nooks to Julia Lombard, whose family owned Old Mother Hubbard Dog Food. Julia went on to breed Chinooks with Walden’s direction until his death in 1947. She then sold her Chinooks to Perry Greene in Waldo- boro, Maine, who was the sole breeder of the Chinooks until his death


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